Recently I read something about Tuscany that really intrigued me. The author said, “Like Paris, Tuscany is an idea as well as a place.” It’s a feeling, an ambiance, a concept and experience. Tuscany is what we think of when we think Italy.
I noodled that one around a bit and decided I agreed. While too many tourists crowd into this part of Italy, it evokes a feeling that one doesn’t get in many places in the world. For that reason, I would go back.
What is that? Relaxed. Focus on food in an unpretentious way. People who talk with their hands passionately. In fact, our cute chef/cooking teacher laughed about this and said she can talk with her hands and her feet. She wiggled one foot around while waving her arms and chuckled, expressing pure pleasure with spending the evening teaching us to make the perfect risotto.
The scenery is beautiful even in the late fall after crops were harvested and we happened to have a rather gray cloudy time period. I was surprised with the diversity—forests, knolls and valleys near our villa, expansive rolling hills about an hour a way and, of course, stunning coast line begging to be explored.
Maybe the special feeling has to do with all the art. Florence is Living Museum. It has an amazing collection of art thanks to the Medicis, especially the last surviving member of this family who donated the entire collection to the city of Florence.
But I saw art and creativity everywhere— painted rocks, ceramics, cute trash cans–anything but ordinary. The amazing Duomos evoke awe and wonder. Storefronts are designed to charm and the children are beautifully dressed.
One can stay very busy in Tuscany. Meander the towns. Visit the art museums and galleries. Ride bikes. Tour wineries. Eat, Drink and Be Merry. By the end of the week, my desire to “see it all” had lessened and I simply enjoyed time reading and chatting with our friends in the cozy villa with an enormous fireplace. Funny, as we gathered around our charming dining table, the conversations became more fascinating and profound as the week went on. Wonder if the good Tuscan wine we consume had anything to do with this?
I also enjoyed strolling up and down the small towns—referred to as Hill Towns. We visited a bunch on the “to see” list, but my sense is that you could go to any one and find treats and treasures, friendly people, good food and the Italian zest for life.
The guidebooks say Tuscany is a blissful escape from the 21st Century. A lot of truth in that.
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